Andy Blunden, February 2003

For Ethical Politics

Published by Heidelberg Press.




Part One: The social and political landscape of the 21st Century

The World Market, National governments and the State, Commodification, Commodification, Women’s Labour, Public and Private Risk, Business Management, Service Sector, Community Service, Health Care, Higher Education, Ethics and Commodities, Fear and uncertainty, Duty and Virtue, Virtue, Duty, Relation between Duty and Virtue, Rights, Ethical bankruptcy, Tweedle-Dum & Tweedle-Dee, Cultural politics, Public and Private Space, The New World Order, The Welfare State, Social Capital, The disaggregation of the labour force, Fundamentalism and Right-wing Populism, The left.

Part Two: From Secret Society to Identity Politics

The Secret Society, The International, Political Party, From Political Party to Front, Taylorism, Combined Development, Fordism, From Front to Social Movement, The Civil Rights Movement, The Women’s Liberation Movement, Identity Politics, The Greens, “The Multitude,” Note: Essential Development, Summary.

Part Three: Alliance Politics

The Dynamics of Alliance Politics, Social stratification and the ‘Loose ethos’, Agency, Summary, Consensus Decision-making and Formal Meeting Procedure.

Part Four: The Fight for Justice in the 21st Century

Rights, Duty, Constitutive Ideals, Virtue, Values, Regulative Ideals, Methods of Struggle, Opening up the political Arena, The problem of organisation, Public Intellectuals, The Trade Unions, The intersection Ethics & Politics: An Arena of Struggle, Populism, Moralism, Re-moralisation of the public sphere, “Cleaning up” the political landscape, Restoring the “Lost Balance,” Limiting Executive Powers, The Sovereignty of “Public Values,” Utopia, Liberalism vs. Communitarianism, Recognition; The “Priority of Right over Good,” The Balance between Legality and Authority, “Ethical Business” and Social Contracts, Redistributive Justice and Recognition, Hegelian, Kantian and Communicative Ethics, Ethical Politics and Theory.



This document is based on the conviction that millions of people across the world see us descending into a deep social and ethical crisis, but at the same time, that modernity has provided the conditions where the inequities and injustices that outrage us are not necessary. We have choices.

It is also based on the perception that almost every one of us has a different theory of history, holds different ideals and beliefs, different aspirations, points of view, religions and speak different languages.

The hope guiding this enquiry is that some people could be brought together to look for a common way forward. Such a coming-together has to accept the relative incommensurability of the different stories within which people choose to play their role. Nevertheless, any outcome which represented the ‘lowest common denominator’ of agreement, would necessarily add little to what we already know. It is to this conundrum that I am addressing myself.

In am indebted, in particular, to Geoff Boucher, whose insights have guided me in the most difficult areas, and who will, I hope, presently publish something superior to what I have been able to do here. I also acknowledge and thank Bill Deller, Fiona Clyne, Roger Woock, Ken McAlpine, Linda Gale and Anitra Nelson for comradely discussions around these problems and advice especially over the past twelve months, in Bill’s case, over a period of two decades.

I am indebted to many others, but I would like to mention just two: Cyril Smith, who was among the first to challenge my “Marxist orthodoxy”, and Lynn Beaton, whose observations about the socialisation of women’s labour provided a turning point for the way in which I viewed modernity.

I would also like to thank Heidelberg Press for taking a risk in publishing this book.

The ideas expressed in the document are the author’s own, though informed by the views of many others, and no agreement on either diagnosis or prognosis is required or expected. But perhaps it could at the very least help to get a discussion started.

Andy Blunden
22nd February 2003